Chinese naval developers are working on a “robot” design they claim will be used to hunt American destroyers and submarines in the South China Sea and beyond.
The China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Company’s small unmanned JARI USV is a 20-ton, 15-meter surface vessel the company hopes will function like a smaller version of the U.S. Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.
And while the robot ship is far smaller than the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s Type-55 manned destroyers, the mission for the JARI USV is the same: Anti-submarine, anti-surface, and anti-air warfare.
The Chinese shipbuilder China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Company is developing a small unmanned surface vessel that China wants to function essentially like the uninhabited baby brother of a U.S. Arleigh Burke destroyer.
A model of the drone was on display at the International Defense Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi, Defense News reported.
The unmanned ship is equipped with an electro-optical sensor that sits atop a superstructure, as well as a phased array radar, a dipping sonar, eight small vertical launch system cells, a torpedo launcher and a forward mounted machine gun and rocket launcher for surface targets.
A model was displayed at the International Defense Exhibition and Conference.
The U.S. Navy has been pursuing similar designs to serve as surface platforms to be deployed against undersea and surface threats. Also, the Navy seeks to develop and deploy “a network of sensor and shooter drones to penetrate anti-access environments such as the South China Sea,” Defense News reported.
The JARI appears to be the PLAN’s version of a drone ship that would be tasked with a similar mission set.
Defense News further reported:
According to the product video, the drone appears to be modular and reconfigurable for the different mission areas, but it’s unclear what missions are permanently integrated into the system. In the video, JARI is shown alternately shooting down an aerial drone, sinking a submarine, machine-gunning a RHIB full of adversaries trying to steal it (after firing warning shots) and sinking a surface ship that looked a little like a littoral combat ship.
The boat tops out at 42 knots and has a range of about 500 nautical miles.
Last year, when China unveiled the design at a show in Africa, a representative told Navy Recognition that the drone was for use by the PLAN and for foreign sales and that a working prototype was being tested in China.
The Chinese vessel can be controlled by a ‘mother’ ship or a shore station, according to specifications.
It’s unclear where humans would be in the loop in terms of controlling the JARI and firing its weapons.
Without question, the Chinese military has made substantial technological advances over the past 25 years as the country’s economy grew and as more resources were allocated to modernizing forces.
But translations of internal communications among Chinese civilian and military leaders reveal that there are doubts that the military is capable of meeting and defeating a modern enemy and that these doubts go back for years.
According to an analysis by War on the Rocks which was based on testimony presented to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on February 7, “A large body of evidence in China’s official military and party media indicates the nation’s senior civilian and uniformed leaders recognize significant shortcomings in the warfighting and command capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
“However, most of this evidence is not translated into English for public consumption and is not considered in much of the foreign analysis of China’s growing military capabilities. This situation is not new, but goes back for decades,” the analysis says.
Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, who is also the chairman of the Central Military Commission, the scope and frequency of the self-critiques have increased. The critiques indicate that senior Chinese military and Communist party leaders doubt the People’s Liberation Army’s ability to defeat a modern enemy in battle.
In addition, recognition of the PLA’s limitations and inexperience will very likely “moderate China’s near- and mid-term national security objectives” as well as “the manner in which they are pursued,” said the analysis.
The Chinese military’s shortcomings are the primary reason why Beijing seeks to achieve its foreign policy objectives via deterrence and “gray zone” actions that are short of war.
Identifying and overcoming Chinese military limitations began in earnest after the country’s short but bloody war with Vietnam in 1979. The Chinese launched the campaign as a means of “punishing” Hanoi for aligning more closely with Moscow than Beijing following the long war with the United States.
But China suffered 7,000 deaths and many more casualties, after invading Vietnam with about 300,000 troops. Though both sides claimed victory, historians generally note that China ‘lost’ in that Beijing failed to achieve stated geopolitical objectives.
Notes the analysis:
Following every major training event, units in all services of the PLA conduct after-action reviews to identify positive developments and detect specific shortcomings and weaknesses for correction. The results of these internal assessments are passed up the chain of command to the party and government’s highest military policy- and decision-making organization, the Central Military Commission. Some of this process is classified and not revealed to the public, but much of it is reported by the official media, mostly in the Chinese language, directed at an internal audience in China. It includes good, and often bad, news.
While translations differ regarding ‘abbreviations’ of internal critiques, the overall outcome of most assessments remains the same: “The PLA must overcome multiple shortcomings in its combat and leadership capabilities,” War on the Rocks noted.
Self-assessments of PLA capabilities appear to have increased under Xi versus his predecessor, Hu Jintao.
However, “these critiques continue to express skepticism about the PLA’s ability to win a local war and have been expanded to question the combat leadership ability of “some” leaders and the PLA’s loyalty to the party,” the analysis notes.
Xi has made modernizing the Chinese military a priority. Chinese state media has reported that Xi wants the PLA to become a world-class fighting force by 2050.
China Daily reported in October 2017:
Xi said as socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, the building of the national defense and the military has also opened a new chapter. He said the military should make all-out efforts to become a world-class force by 2050 and to strive for the realization of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
While technology has improved among PLA ground, air, and naval units, the force overall lacks operational and combat experience. Current vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, General Zhang Youxia voiced his concerns about this weakness in 2009 when he was Shenyang Military Region commander:
Today, the PLA hasn’t been in actual combat for many years now, yet the fires of war are burning throughout the world. In this area, the gap between the PLA and foreign militaries is growing day by day. This is an actual problem.
The Chinese media calls the PLA’s lack of combat experience the “peace disease,” and frequently urges the armed forces to overcome it by maintaining a high state of readiness much like the U.S. military remains ready to “Fight Tonight.”
As Foreign Policy reported last fall, China’s military is “untested” and could either be a “force or a flop.” The report noted:
Today, China’s military has an increasingly impressive high-tech arsenal, but its ability to use these weapons and equipment remains unclear. There are reasons to be skeptical. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) struggles under the legacy of an obsolete command system, rampant corruption, and training of debatable realism, among other issues.
The Pentagon is stepping up so-called “Freedom of Navigation Operations” — FONOPs — in the South China Sea as a means of meeting and deterring Chinese aggression and expansionism.
The Navy has already carried out two FONOPs this year and officials say more are planned, the South China Morning Post reported.
However, observers say that the increase in U.S. Navy operations isn’t liable to influence Chinese decision-making in the region or deter Beijing from continuing to make outsized claims in the South China Sea.
In January, the USS McCampbell sailed near the Paracel Islands. On February 11, the USS Spruance and the USS Preble sailed near Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, both missions of which triggered predictable angry responses from China.
The U.S. Navy carried out five FONOPs last year and four in 2017, the SCMP noted.
Adm. Phil Davidson, head of the US Indo-Pacific Command, suggested last week during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that FONOPs in the South China Sea would be increased in the coming months.
He also said Britain’s naval activity would also increase in the South China Sea along with the activity of other U.S. allies.
China, thus far, is undeterred. In recent months Beijing has dispatched its own warships to the region in an effort to confront U.S. Navy ships. One such confrontation nearly led to a collision between U.S. and Chinese warships.
Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said the U.S. would have to resort to other strategies than simply using FONOPs to deter Beijing.
“While freedom of navigation operations may be one of the ways the US expresses its security commitment to the governments, they will have a negligible effect on Beijing’s continued strategic and economic forays – especially via the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ – throughout the Indo-Pacific region,” he told the paper.
Indeed, he added, “Beijing may likely use the intensified foreign military presence, including joint FONOPs, as a justification for these build-ups.”
Yue Gang, a retired People’s Liberation Army colonel, told the SCMP that neither the U.S. nor China wants to go to war over the South China Sea.
“If the US sent a large number of warships, then China would do the same in order to maintain a balance, so that would increase the risk of confrontation,” he said.
“But China doesn’t want a military conflict in the South China Sea, and the claim America is willing to stage a war against China is an overstatement.”
The Pentagon says that the Chinese military is preparing to deploy an anti-satellite laser weapon that can be used against American satellites and those of Western powers operating in low orbit by 2020.
According to a Defense Intelligence Agency report on emerging space threats, the Chinese “ASAT” weapon will be capable of either damaging or destroying targeted satellites, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
The directed energy weapon is one of several designed for use against space-based targets including ground-based ASAT missiles, cyber attacks, electronic jammers, and small ‘hunter-killer’ satellites that the Chinese plan to use against U.S. satellites in any future conflict, the DIA report says.
“China likely is pursuing laser weapons to disrupt, degrade, or damage satellites and their sensors and possibly already has a limited capability to employ laser systems against satellite sensors,” said the unclassified report.
It added: “China likely will field a ground-based laser weapon that can counter low-orbit space-based sensors by 2020, and by the mid-to-late 2020s, it may field higher power systems that extend the threat to the structures of non-optical satellites.”
The report was the first time the Pentagon’s intelligence agency revealed details of ASAT laser weapons being developed by China.
Beijing’s military has been working to develop ASAT directed energy weapons at least since 2006. That year, the Chinese military used a laser to “dazzle” an orbiting U.S. satellite in what analysts said was a test.
That came about a year before China tested an ASAT missile against an old orbiting weather satellite. The missile destroyed the target, which created an extremely hazardous orbiting field of debris that still threatens existing space-based assets.
While China has also developed additional directed energy weapons, ASAT lasers are considered more advantageous because their effects can be hidden more easily.
The DIA report notes that high energy beams are able to destroy electro-optical detectors used for missile launches, optical systems that track launches, control surfaces, solar panels that power the satellites, and other vital parts as well.
Ground-based laser weapons are estimated to have effective ranges of between 310 and 620 miles and reportedly require 1,000 watts or more of power on average.
Other nations including Russia, Iran, and North Korea are believed to have developed or are developing, ASAT capabilities to knock out American satellites during a conflict.
“China and Russia, in particular, have taken steps to challenge the United States,” the report stated, noting that both countries’ military operating doctrines consider attacks against satellites “as a means to reduce U.S. and allied military effectiveness.”
Space News reported a year ago that both Russia and China were expected to have operational ASAT capabilities including directed energy weapons by next year.
“We assess that, if a future conflict were to occur involving Russia or China, either country would justify attacks against U.S. and allied satellites as necessary to offset any perceived U.S. military advantage derived from military, civil or commercial space systems,” warned the 2018 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community, released in February 2018 by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Anti-satellite weapons have been a concern since the Cold War. In fact, the U.S. military has been studying “satellite intercept” vehicles since 1957.
In 2016, the U.S. Air Force committed to spending $1.1 billion per year for five years to study ways to defend against ASAT attacks.
“Potential adversaries have taken notice of how we use space and have taken steps to replicate those capabilities for their own use and to devise capabilities to take them away from us if they ever got into a conflict with us,” Winston Beauchamp, Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force for Space, told Scout Warrior at the time.
The Pentagon will continue to shift forces to the Pacific to counter what a top commander has deemed a “massive” military buildup by China.
Adm. Philip Davidson, the U.S. Navy’s new Indo-Pacific theater commander, said the U.S. military’s efforts to bolster its presence in the region is necessary to counter aggressive efforts by China to expand its influence and force the region to bend to Beijing’s wishes.
In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Davidson told members that China’s military buildup consists of large numbers of new, advanced missiles, planes, warships, submarines, and nuclear forces. In addition, he described China as “the greatest long-term threat to a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” the Washington Free Beacon reported.
“Through fear and economic pressure, Beijing is working to expand its form of communist-socialist ideology in order to bend, break, and replace the existing rules-based international order,” the PACOM commander said.
“In its place, Beijing seeks to create a new international order led by China and with Chinese characteristics,” Davidson noted further, an outcome that will replace the over 70 years of U.S.-backed peace and stability.
Davidson told the committee the Pentagon was adding additional weapons and forces to the region in response to China’s continued buildup of conventional, nuclear, and “gray zone” forces, the latter amounting to influence operations short of traditional armed conflict. China uses its maritime militia and Coast Guard in this manner.
Currently, PACOM is staffed with approximately 375,000 military and civilian personnel, some 200 warships including five aircraft carrier strike groups, and some 1,100 aircraft, the Free Beacon noted.
“Over the last 20 years, Beijing has undertaken a massive effort to grow and modernize the People’s Liberation Army (PLA),” Davidson said.
“The PLA is the principal threat to U.S. interests, U.S. citizens, and our allies inside the first island chain—a term that refers to the islands that run from northern Japan through Taiwan, the Philippines, and Indonesia—and the PLA is quickly increasing its ability to project power and influence beyond the first island chain,” he added.
U.S. allies in the region have grown increasingly concerned over the past couple of years as China has become more aggressive and assertive in the region, constructing islands in the South China Sea and equipping them with surface-to-air missiles, radar systems, and runways for warplanes.
During Davidson’s testimony, Sen. James Inhofe (R., Okla.), the new Armed Services chairman, said the U.S. military needs “urgent change at a significant scale” to deal with China.
“Our military advantage and deterrent edge in the Indo-Pacific is eroding,” Inhofe said. “The Chinese Communist Party leadership in Beijing senses weakness. They are testing our resolve, and if we do not act urgently, they may soon conclude that they can achieve their goals through force. We can’t take that peace for granted.”
Davidson noted that the South China Sea has become the most volatile flashpoint for conflict between the U.S. and her allies and China.
In addition to meeting security concerns, the U.S. has legitimate economic interests in the region as well. Total “trade with regional states in Southeast Asia totaled more than $1.8 trillion in 2017 and more than $1.3 trillion by the third quarter of 2018,” the Free Beacon noted.
Because of the importance of the region for trade and commerce, the U.S. called on China to remove sophisticated missiles from its islands in November, The Diplomat reported.
“The United States called on China to withdraw its missile systems from disputed features in the Spratly Islands, and reaffirmed that all countries should avoid addressing disputes through coercion or intimidation,” the U.S. statement said following the second annual U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue.
Director of the Office of Foreign Affairs of the Central Commission of the Communist Party of China and Politburo member Yang Jiechi responded, “The Chinese side made it clear to the United States that it should stop sending its vessels and military aircraft close to Chinese islands and reefs and stop actions that undermine China’s sovereignty and security interests.”
China has been developing its DF-26 intermediate-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for years now, hyping it alternately as a “carrier killer” or, more recently, the “Guam killer,” the latter a reference to the U.S.-managed base on the small island in the South Pacific.
Recently, Chinese military experts quoted by an official English-language website managed by the People’s Liberation Army claimed that a recent test of the missile by its rocket forces proved its ability to adjust its trajectory during flight and strike a moving warship.
The experts said the demonstrated capability was aimed at putting to rest any doubts in the U.S. and the West about the DF-26’s ability to hit a moving aircraft carrier or other warship.
As noted by the Asia Times, the missile has ostensibly been designed to cause unacceptable damage to U.S. Navy capital warships like carriers and other vessels operating in the Western Pacific. However, that capability has increasingly come under scrutiny by military analysts who know that developing a capability to target and sink a U.S. aircraft carrier is an extremely difficult task, even for advancing Chinese A2/AD (anti-access/area denial) weapons systems.
Asia Times notes:
With a maximum range of 4,000 kilometers, the DF-26 would have the capability to strike US naval facilities and assets on the Pacific island of Guam. It is said that it can carry conventional and nuclear payloads, as well as strike targets on land and at sea.
According to Chinese media reports, the test of a DF-26 missile has been conducted “somewhere” in northwestern China. Using imageries from a China Central Television (CCTV) program aired on January 8, Hans M Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, has geolocated a convoy of seven DF-26 launchers to a highway in Inner Mongolia province, where the PLA Rocket Force has a missile training area.
Kristensen told Asia Times that it was difficult to assess whether Chinese claims about the DF-26’s anti-ship capabilities were credible, given that it is actually unknown what factors go into a Chinese hit-test of such a missile, and how realistic it is, as well as what capacities the US military has to disturb a DF-26 strike.
He said he remains skeptical about China’s public claims regarding the missile’s capabilities.
“A successful DF-26 strike against a moving ship depends on a lot of vulnerable links, some of which can probably be disturbed by US countermeasures or faced with unpredictable atmospheric conditions in a realistic battle,” he told the news site.
U.S. Navy experts have their own take on China’s anti-ship capabilities. For instance, former Navy Secretary John F. Lehman told the news site last fall that current Chinese systems may be able to cripple a carrier but not sink it. And that’s even if a missile can strike a carrier.
“If the DF-26 could hit, there is no doubt a conventional warhead could inflict considerable damage on an aircraft carrier,” Kristensen said. “But aircraft carriers are extraordinarily hard to sink, a fact demonstrated by their performance during World War II and numerous serious accidents over the years.”
“The accuracy of the DF-26 is uncertain, with speculators estimating the [circular error probability] at intermediate range between 150 to 450 meters,” or around 500 to 1,500 feet, said the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies in an analysis.
Even so, Kristensen added, taking out a U.S. carrier wouldn’t stop the Pentagon’s ability to reach out and destroy Chinese military assets throughout the South China Sea and on the mainland.
As for the DF-26, while U.S. military experts continue to question its accuracy, the Defense Department isn’t taking any changes. The National Interest reports that additional missile defenses have been deployed to Guam and aboard warships to intercept incoming enemy missiles. Also, new technologies such as directed-energy (laser) weapons are also being developed.
For instance, U.S. destroyers and cruisers are equipped with SM-6 missiles, which have a range of about 130 miles and theoretically could intercept a DF-26 in its boost phase. Meantime, the Missile Defense Agency is preparing to test the SM-3 Block IIA in action against an ICBM-type target in 2020 in conjunction with a $230 million effort to build new anti-missile capabilities. Analysts say if the Block IIA can hit its ICBM-type target, it can destroy an incoming DF-26.
One way the DF-26 is able to maneuver is via built-in radar, but the missile also receives targeting data possibly from satellites but also from ground- and naval-based radar, Chinese experts told the PLA-run Global Times. But the Pentagon is stepping up its electronic warfare capabilities which would presumably disrupt communications the DF-26 relies on to receive targeting information.
Whether the missile is as accurate as China claims or whether it’s hype, Pentagon leaders say they are both aware of the threat and well-positioned to meet and defeat it.
Last summer, the world got its first glimpses of a massive, 20-ton stealth drone fighter being developed by Russia when defense industry sources passed them along to the Russian state-owned news outlet TASS.
Though the aircraft (shown above) “has not yet taken full shape, its main features are already known,” a defense official told the newswire.
Since TASS is completely run by the Kremlin, it’s safe to say that the images were ‘leaked’ on purpose.
The defense official noted further:
“First of all, it should be unmanned and capable of performing any combat task in an autonomous regime. In this sense, the stealth drone will become the prototype of the sixth generation fighter jet,’ the source said, adding that the drone will be able to “take off, fulfill its objectives and return to the airfield.”
“However, it will not receive the function of decision-making regarding the use of weapons – this will be decided by a human,” he said.
Now, as LiveJournal now reports, brand-new images of the first prototype of this sixth-gen unmanned reconnaissance-strike drone, nicknamed “Hunter,” have been taken at the airdrome of the Novosibirsk Aviation Plant.
Reports note that designers have been putting the model through testing at the plant since November 2018. Prototype flights have been scheduled for sometime this year.
A second defense expert told the Russian newswire the drone/jet has a top speed of about 621 miles per hour:
The Russian Defense Ministry and the Sukhoi Company signed a contract for developing the 20-ton Okhotnik (Hunter) heavy unmanned strike aircraft in 2011. The drone’s mock-up model was made in 2014. According to unconfirmed reports, composite materials and anti-radar coating were used to create the Okhotnik. The drone is equipped with a reaction-jet propulsion and is supposed to develop a speed of 1000 kilometers per hour, said TASS.
Sam Bendett, a researcher at the CNA Corporation and a member of CNA’s Center for Autonomy and AI, previously told Defense One, “Sounds like Russia wants everything to be included into the new design at once.In reality, they will probably have to compromise, selecting more realistic qualifications for the new aircraft.”
He added: “Most importantly, this will be an expensive endeavor, further pushing Russian designers and the Ministry of Defense to be more selective in approving the final aircraft specs. However, some qualifications, like optional manning, autonomy and some form of artificial intelligence will probably be included.”
In the end, Bendett says, Moscow’s objective may be to move away from manned aircraft altogether.
“Ohotnik is barely flying yet and some time will pass before it becomes an operational variant. Nonetheless, this unmanned aerial vehicle and Russia’s future combat aircraft plans offer a glimpse into Moscow’s thoughts on future warfare,” he noted.
The U.S. military is also testing unmanned drone aircraft.
For instance, the Navy recently selected the MQ-25 aircraft tanker/refuelling drone built by Boeing, which the service plans to use to refuel carrier-based planes at sea.
Also, the U.S. is looking at other designs, including the Kratos XQ-222 Valkyrie, a swarm drone platform for the Air Force, and the Lockheed TR-X, designed to replace the SR-71 spy plane.
The Chinese are also in the combat drone business, with its CH-7 — an apparent clone of a U.S. Navy design, the X-47B, which has since been discontinued.
The CH-7 could also be based on another U.S. design, however, as We Are The Mighty reported:
Some observers suggested the Chinese drone is a sort of copy of the famous Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel, the stealth drone captured by Iran in 2011 and then reverse-engineered by Tehran: according to the information circulating on the Chinese Defense forums, a group of 17 Chinese experts flew to Iran 4 days after…the Sentinel drone had crash landed in Iran during a spy mission, not only to inspect, but also to collect and bring back to China some key components of the RQ-170.
Several nations including Russia and China are developing massive electromagnetic pulse (EMP) bombs that are designed to wipe out nearly all electronics, from computers to power grids, for hundreds of miles surrounding the blast, a new congressional report warns.
The report by the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from EMP Attack, which no longer exists, reveals for the first time details about how nuclear EMP weapons are being integrated into battle plans by China, Russia, North Korea, and even Iran, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
Of the details provided by the report, the authors also disclose how those countries would employ EMP attacks in various battle theaters including Europe, the Middle East, the Far East and North America.
“Nuclear EMP attack is part of the military doctrines, plans, and exercises of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran for a revolutionary new way of warfare against military forces and civilian critical infrastructures by cyber, sabotage, and EMP,” the report says.
“This new way of warfare is called many things by many nations: In Russia, China, and Iran it is called Sixth Generation Warfare, Non-Contact Warfare, Electronic Warfare, Total Information Warfare, and Cyber Warfare,” the report continued.
This type of warfare is also dubbed “Blackout War” because of its devastating effects on a country’s power grid.
The concept behind an EMP attack is to detonate a nuclear warhead high above a target — so high that they don’t produce any blast or other effects harmful to humans. Rather, the objective is to use the electromagnetic pulse emitted by the blast to knock out even sophisticated electronics, knocking out all technology that powers modern societies.
Strikes are regarded by adversaries as not being acts of nuclear war.
“Potential adversaries understand that millions could die from the long-term collateral effects of EMP and cyber-attacks that cause protracted black-out of national electric grids and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures,” the report states.
But potential adversaries aren’t just building normal EMP bombs; they’re building ‘super bombs’ capable of generating enough gamma rays for a peak EMP field of 200,000 volts per meter, which is enough to fry even strategic (hardened) communications and intelligence-gathering systems.
China, Russia, and — most likely North Korea — are believed to already possess these kinds of super-bombs, the commission’s report says.
The U.S., meanwhile, does not have such a weapon in its arsenal, the authors noted.
Super-EMP bombs produce gamma rays that generate a peak EMP field of 200,000 volts per meter—enough to fry strategic communications and intelligence systems. China, Russia, and probably North Korea are said to have these arms, according to the commission. The United States has no super-EMP weapons in its nuclear arsenal.
Since EMP bombs can be ‘adjusted’ in terms of the amount of area they can destroy, they have a number of potential uses.
China could use an EMP bomb to knock out all electronics on the autonomous island of Taiwan ahead of an invasion. Also, Beijing could detonate one over Japan in times of war.
Russia could use an EMP super bomb to destroy much of Europe’s power grid and electronic infrastructure. And all three could use such weapons against the U.S.
In the opening moments of a world war, China or Russia could use an EMP weapon to knock out U.S. nuclear command-and-control infrastructure, the report said.
“A super-EMP warhead, in the possession of Russia or North Korea, could put at risk the best protected U.S. assets, even threatening the survival of the U.S. nuclear deterrent,” it added.
The U.S. Navy’s top admiral said Friday that he has not ruled out sending an aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait despite increased riskS due to advanced Chinese military capabilities that now pose greater threats than ever before to American warships.
Adm. John Richardson said there are “no limits” on the types of warships the U.S. Navy could potentially operate in the region, despite China’s growing military capabilities.
The Navy has sent warships through the strategic waterway that divides China and Tawain three times in 2018 as part of its increased operational tempo in the region. However, the Navy hasn’t sent a carrier through the straits in a decade, Reuters reported.
In the ensuing years, China has substantially improved its anti-ship ballistic and cruise missile capabilities, as well as its own naval and air forces.
Nevertheless, Richardson said the U.S. Navy would not be deterred from operating in what are international waters.
“We don’t really see any kind of limitation on whatever type of ship could pass through those waters,” Admiral John Richardson told reporters in Tokyo, when asked if more advanced Chinese weapons posed a risk that was too great.
“We see the Taiwan Strait as another [stretch of] international waters, so that’s why we do the transits,” he added.
U.S. carriers are the pride of the Navy. With onboard compliments of about 80 aircraft and 5,000 sailors and Marines, they are the primary means of Washington’s power projection. That said, in recent years, some defense analysts have begun questioning the future of carriers as improvements in ballistic and hypersonic missiles by near-peer competitor nations evolve.
Richardson’s comments come after Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed earlier this month to use force to reunify the mainland and Taiwan if necessary — even if the U.S. were to intervene.
In October he ordered the military region responsible for monitoriing Taiwan and the South China Sea to “prepare for war.”
Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, meanwhile, has called on the international community to defend the island democracy against Chinese aggression.
A new unclassified report by the Defense Intelligence Agency is warning of technological gains against the U.S. military that include pulling ahead of the Pentagon in the development of key weapons systems, particularly China.
“China is building a robust, lethal force with capabilities spanning the air, maritime, space and information domains which will enable China to impose its will in the region,” wrote DIA Director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, in a preface to the report.
In a briefing to reporters at the Defense Department on Tuesday, a senior Pentagon official said that in terms of ballistic and cruise missile technology,” I would say they [the Chinese] are with the most modern militaries in the world.”
In particular, the official noted, China is leading in hypersonic missile development. Beijing has been testing for years and is close to deploying a maneuverable hypersonic glide vehicle that will sit atop its ballistic missiles.
Also, China has a major advantage over all other military forces around the world with its massive arsenal of 1,200 sophisticated short-range ballistic missiles.
“For a variety of reasons they’re out ahead of the world in medium-and intermediate-range precision strike systems, partly because the United States and Russia that limited them,” the official said, referencing the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
That agreement bans the U.S. and Russia from developing and deploying land-based or ballistic or cruise missiles that have ranges between 500 and 5,500 km (310 – 3,417 miles).
China’s distinct advantage in precision strike capability is another reason why the Trump administration is set to withdraw from the Cold War-era treaty — that, and the fact that Russia is violating the treaty anyway by developing and deploying a land-based cruise missile system.
China, meanwhile, has never been a signatory to the INF agreement and has used it to take full advantage of the restrictions on U.S. and Russian forces.
“From the Chinese perspective, they would hope that it would cause a great threat to U.S. warships,” the DIA official said. “They certainly have developed anti-ship capabilities in a variety of different ways to deal with concerns that they’ve had a couple of decades about the potential for U.S. Navy and other allied navies operating in the region.”
China’s continued, rapid military development is a departure from previous decades when Beijing sought only to defend itself. Now, China seeks to be assertive globally.
“Chinese leaders characterize China’s long-term military modernization program as essential to achieving great power status,” Ashley noted.
“As it continues to grow in strength and confidence, our nation’s leaders will face a China insistent on having a greater voice in global interactions, which at times may be antithetical to U.S. interests,” he wrote.
The South China Sea is already a major point of contention, the DIA official noted. The Chinese built three large islands between 2014-2015 and have since developed and fortified them.
“They have three large airfields on these artificial islands that they created down there where they can base all types of military capabilities down there. They can have a lot of sensors down there. They can support naval operations, and in the future, air operations much further away from China,” the official said.
“They’re able to be present in a more persistent manner than they might have been before, if they had to come all the way down from the mainland or from Hainan Island up nearer the mainland, to get into some sort of a conflict with a regional claimant or with the U.S. or allied forces.”
For Chinese President Xi Jinping, resolve the ‘Taiwan issue’ remains a priority, the official said, adding that he “has made it clear that resolving or making progress, at least, on resolving, from his perspective, the Taiwan situation is a very top priority for him.”
As for whether China will attack Taiwan, the DIA assesses that action is not imminent nor likely in the near-term. The official said China could always launch a suprise attack using is massive arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles — which he said appear to have been built specifically to target Taiwan.
The official also noted that overall, the Chinese military is not on par with U.S. forces, noting that China has “not fought a major war in 40 years.”
“When you talk parity … there is more than just technology involved; there’s experience, there’s experience, there is command structure, there is training, there is proficiency … they have a lot that they need to do,” he said.
Over time, however, China will continue to improve its air, sea, and land forces to a point where, internally, a decision will likely be made that Bejing’s forces are capable enough to use military force regionally, Taiwan being the target.